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30 September 2022

Harriet Rochester – CATS Careers Coaching

Did you know that Racing Welfare has its own designated careers advice and training service (CATS)? CATS provides support and guidance to anyone working in the British horseracing industry, helping people to fulfil their career aspirations.

Harriet has worked as a self-employed consultant to the horseracing industry for more than 14 years, working with numerous stakeholders across the sport, however she found herself facing a career challenge:

“Previously I approached my career progression and challenges in isolation. I presumed people didn’t want to be bothered with my professional world, an inaccurate mindset possibly created by the void of not having the regular support of a line manager or wider team in my day to day working life – a common characteristic of self-employment.  Furthermore, I’d never considered what support I might be able to access as a self-employed person and was on default that I wasn’t eligible for the career coaching services out there.  I became used to and got quite good at finding solutions on my own, which grew into a habit that manifested over more than 10 years.”

A chance conversation with Racing Welfare’s Careers Advice and Training Service (CATS) project lead Sarah Fanning, led to Harriet being referred for careers coaching.

Harriet recalls: “I had been working on a big project, which was also very important to me. I felt I had so much energy, enthusiasm, and expertise to offer and piled an enormous amount of pressure and expectation on both the project and me.  Therefore, when the dynamics changed because I had built up this piece of work as a ‘critical moment’ in my life, it floored me.

“I felt so frustrated. I was full of energy and enthusiasm that I now did not know what to do with, and instead of harnessing it into something new, those feelings manifested within me in a negative way. I was in an anxious place when I chatted with Sarah, but straight away she mentioned CATS and got the wheels in motion to refer me into the service.”

Due to being self-employed, Harriet was surprised she was able to access CATS, she said: “It was something I’d never even considered, but Sarah reassured me saying that anyone working in the industry is eligible to benefit from Racing Welfare’s careers advice.

“This was a real eye-opener for me, as by being self-employed I’d presumed I wasn’t entitled to this support and it was only for people employed by an industry organisation.  I was feeling very low professionally, rather alone, and literally breathed a huge sigh of relief when Sarah swiftly introduced me into CATS and I was on the programme and talking to Zoe Hendricks within weeks.”

Harriet completed three sessions of careers coaching with Zoe.  The first session enabled her to set the scene and start to process things. She says: “Zoe helped me realise how critical that piece of work had been to me, and all the feelings I was experiencing were OK and normal.  She was so supportive and listened wonderfully.

“During the time that I was having my coaching sessions an exciting opportunity presented itself. My conversations with Zoe helped clear the loop of noise inside, giving me the clarity to focus on this new prospect and to look ahead giving me the confidence to go for it! Possibly without Zoe’s support I could have been a bit caught up in my own feelings to act.”

Following her career coaching sessions, Harriet became Interim Marketing and PR Manager at York Racecourse. She reflects on her experience of the CATS careers coaching: “It’s amazing that Racing Welfare offers this service to anyone in the industry. It was a breath of fresh air and I couldn’t quite believe that an off-chance conversation led to immediate action to get me onto this service, which enabled me to move forward.

“In hindsight, having been self-employed for a long-time, I’d institutionalised myself and was on autopilot that I was on my own when it came to finding solutions.  Therefore, when a curve ball hit it not only knocked my confidence, but problem solving was an even more uphill and foggy process.  The words ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ rang very deep within me during the CATS process, having someone like Zoe helped me to distil things and by simply telling me I was good at what I do helped renew my confidence.”

Harriet closes by suggesting that other self-employed people, at any level, or those who have been in the industry for a long time, might benefit from careers coaching if they are at a crossroads or struggling to overcome something: “CATS really helped me. To have somebody who was completely neutral as a sounding board and provide support along with their expertise was priceless to me”.


The Careers Advice & Training Service (CATS) has now been suspended. Via our welfare officers and our support line, beneficiaries can still access careers advice, support, signposting to job boards and industry bodies as well as training grants.